Meerkat may have popped up last year with all the buzz of a budding app, but in today’s competitive world of live streaming technology, it was forced to tap out.
Goodbye, Meerkat. We hardly knew you. This stunner of the 2015 South by Southwest festival had all the signs of going the distance, including heavy-duty start-up funding from big Hollywood types such as Jared Leto and Ashton Kutcher. The Meerkat app went viral prior to the SXSW event, stealing the show in the realm of live streaming.
The rise of Meerkat
Meerkat’s viral popularity was largely due to ease of use and connectivity with the powerhouse social app Twitter. Meerkat accessed Twitter login credentials to build a new user network almost overnight. But Twitter had a new live streaming app of its own called Periscope in its back pocket. This didn’t stop Meerkat though, as its popularity continued to soar—until Twitter decided to throw one final punch.
The fall of Meerkat
The death trap eventually snapped on Meerkat when Twitter blocked the app’s access to its social graph, which in effect reduced the number of push notifications for Meerkat live streams, and limited peer connectivity. Meerkat simply couldn’t recover without those vital features.
According to Ben Rubin, the CEO and co-founder of Meerkat’s developer Life on Air, Inc., the app wasn’t able to find its place in the daily habit of avid users. But the company’s new up-and-comer, Houseparty, just might go the distance. What is it? In short, a video chat app that allows users to hold candid conversations on the regular.
When drumming up the idea for Houseparty, Life On Air, Inc. was still in love with the concept of live mobile video, but needed a more social experience. “We didn’t want to be a theatre, we wanted to be a house party,” Rubin said. And so they are. Houseparty users can chat with friends and family via video and expand their network to have virtual “parties” whenever they please.
But just like every house party, there’s always some cleanup involved. Over the last several months, the app’s traffic stalled dramatically due to its inability to host thousands of video chats simultaneously. Not to worry, though—the Houseparty goes on, now better than ever. New users are signing up daily and growth has even quadrupled in some markets. Houseparty’s user base of about 1 million is mostly under 25, an age group that won’t quickly bail on a snazzy shindig.
Houseparty wants to be the Instagram of group video. This is no small task, but Rubin and his team are up for the challenge. Their dream of connecting people in a competitive video market is admirable, even more so when they gaze upon obstacles on the horizon.
The challenge for Houseparty will be in keeping the lid on prohibitive data costs, or else it could suffer the same fate as Meerkat. Only time will tell if new tools and innovations within the app will be enough to keep it alive, and not allow it to be cannibalized by social giants. But for now, Life On Air, Inc. is confident that they can make the turn. So, Houseparty on.